Overview: What effect could Biden's request to get workers back to work have on the child care industry?
How do parents return to work without available child care? This question was posed back in May 2020 when the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was initially passed. The truth is that, although 2 years have passed, this question still holds weight with Biden's recent appeal for workers to return back to the office.
In his State of the Union address, Biden urged for an end to remote work. His reasoning: We’ve made progress fighting COVID, to the point that Americans can get back to work and go to the office safely again, even without masks.
How could this appeal to return to work affect the child care industry? Parents already had to cope with an already-insufficient child care system decimated by the pandemic.
Increased domestic and care work as a result of the closure of schools and child care facilities also only seem to be scratching one of the many issues impacting the child care industry and working parents.
>> CONTINUE READING: Childcare, Covid-19 and Female Firm Exit
Biden plans to "cut the cost in half for most families" — especially to help millions of women get back to work after affordability issues forced them to leave the workforce mid-pandemic because they couldn’t afford child care. However, returning to the workplace has become more than money; health and safety are also at stake.
“After several false starts in [sic] calling workers back, company leaders now seem eager to press forward," the New York Times’ Emma Goldberg and Lananh Nguyen report. "But some workers, especially those with compromised immunity or unvaccinated children, feel uncomfortable with the rush back to open floor plans."
ARE CHILD CARE FACILITIES PART OF THAT "RETURN":
In the article "How COVID-19 is Impacting Child Care Providers," we recap the conflicting views of mid-2020 for child care facilities around the nation as child care shortages and concerns complicated the jobs of many child care facilities and parents alike.
Renee, child care provider from Appleton, WI said: We know that we are putting both our team and families in harm’s way by being open, but we have not closed. The few families we are serving are essential workers, or families who are trying to work from home whose employers do not understand that working from home with a small child is hard!
On the contrary, Michele, child care provider from Tracy, CA said: As a small private child care provider serving few essential workers, we made the difficult decision to close for the protection and safety of our children, families, and staff.
While Biden's appeal seemed logical a few months ago, recent statistics have shown an increase in Covid cases:
Western Australia records another 16,253 infections — the third-highest daily figure since the pandemic began. [Source]
In South Africa, two offshoots of the game-changing Omicron coronavirus variant lineage are once again driving a surge in COVID-19 cases there. [Source]
East Asia: As rapid transmission of Omicron unfolds in Taiwan, it seems inevitable that an outbreak will also occur in China.
United States: Cases are increasing, particularly in the Northeast and on the West Coast, due to returning pre-COVID behavior patterns.
Read more about global COVID-19 updates here.
We would like to think that the pandemic is behind us, but the recent updates make returning to work seem challenging. It ultimately begs the question: Will the COVID-19 crisis spur a fundamental change in the way child care is delivered in the U.S.?
"There are no easy solutions on the horizon for these parents or the companies that employ them," said Nancy Cleeland in an article on how child care complicates return to work back in June of 2020.
And as cases of COVID-19 rise sharply throughout the region, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director, Carissa F. Etienne, has called on countries to take action to increase surveillance, public health measures and vaccination, and to make sure that health systems are prepared to cope with a potential influx of COVID-19 patients.
PROACTIVE MEASURES TO RETURN TO FACILITIES:
Child care centers in particular have the unique challenge of both supporting parents who might "return to office" and lacking the support to provide the necessary care for these parents' children due to issues such as under-staffing, unvaccinated children, and the like.
Traci, child care provider from Philadelphia, PA says that child care facilties "need help understanding how to open safely and how to adjust to new regulations, how to afford related training, and what to do if our families can’t afford to return."
STEPS FACILITIES COULD TAKE TO MAKE BIDEN'S "RETURN TO OFFICE" MORE FEASIBLE FOR THEM (BASED ON THE CDSS):
Re-opening procedures for a facility that has closed due to COVID-19. Any decision about re-opening a child care facility that was closed due to COVID-19 should be made in coordination with your local health department.
Payment procedures for closed facilities. CDSS does not advise facilities on how they should collect, receive, or refund payments for child care. Each provider may set up their own business practices regarding payments.
Face covering regulations (staff & children). Staff in all child care facilities are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth indoors, unless they have an exemption as outlined in CDPH guidance, in which case they must still use an acceptable alternative; Child care providers should follow the guidance issued by CDPH that strongly encourages all individuals in child care settings to wear face coverings while indoors.
The Guidance for Child Care Providers and Programs contains additional information about face covering:
Never place face coverings on babies or children under 2 years of age because it poses a danger and risk for suffocation.
Children should not wear face coverings while sleeping.
Child care providers and licensees must ensure the use of face coverings does not cause children to overheat in hot weather.
Modifications to operations and licensing regulations. Parents are required to sign children in and out of the facility each day.
MAKING CHILD CARE RETURN EASIER FOR EVERYONE:
The easiest way for child care faciities to combat the effects of the pandemic isn't contingent on returning to the office. Contrary to Biden's plea, child care facilities can take advantage of a child care management program that focuses on providing flexible child care and scheduling tools digitally.
For example, our child care management app lets parents check in and out with ease by using the "Touchless Kiosk" that's integrated into one's phone once they download the Seer® app.
Not to mention access to the number of children vs. staff is managed to ensure neither is overwhelmed, and even billing and invoicing (including partial payments) can be addressed.
Having a child care management app means that everyone involved — from daycare business owners, learning center directors, and early education teachers to parents — can have access to critical details of the center such as class schedules and activities regardless of a "return to office." This ultimately decreases health risks while helping families maintain, well, their families.
As workers are urged to return to work, working parents will start to look for ways to care for their child; automating your child care with the efficient Seer® child care management software might be the best solution during and after a pandemic.